Vita Nostra by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko

Washington Post called this book the “anti-Harry Potter you didn’t know you wanted.”

It is a little bit like Hogworts University … with sex and vodka.

But more than anything else this book is weird. It’s long. And by the end I still had not much idea what was happening to the students at the Institute of Special Technologies.

It seems this is the first book in the Metamorphosis cycle, three unconnected novels addressing themes of transformation.

Overall, I can’t enthusiastically recommend.

Vita Nostra is a novel by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko (Maryna and Serhiy Dyachenko) first published in 2007 in Ukraine.

The novel tells the story of Alexandra (Sasha) Samokhina, who is forced by an unknown man to attend a remote and mysterious university.

The Dyachenkos hail from Kiev and currently reside in California.
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cycling eastern Washington State

July 14, 2019 – day 12.

I was up early at my wild camp between road and cattle fence.

Near Sprague Lake I happened past a baby bird staying motionless on the roadway. Seems it had become separated from the Mom.

Eastern Washington State is interesting. There are a lot of old trucks, some operational.

And how can there be so many trains? Are they all headed to Seattle?

As I’d given up on the Great American Rail-Trail I took, instead, a variety of backcountry roads and non-motorized trails.

Actually I got trail advice from the first GART hiker I’d met. (Now retired, he now plans to wander the USA and Canada with his dog Oreo.)

Columbia Plateau Trail
Fish Lake

For some reason there was a gap on the Columbia Plateau Trail … but I found a way to squeeze through.

Later I had problems with my bike. Somehow, somewhere I’d broken 3 spokes.

Is this a bike shop?

It was a long day, but a good day — aside from the spokes.

The bike still rolled but was quite noisy and wobbly.

No matter how much I drank, I could not urinate. 😕

Is that a bad sign?

In these flatlands it wasn’t easy to find a discrete place to camp. Happily I came upon this old foundation sunk into the ground.

 

cycling Moses Lake to Sprague Lake WA

July 13, 2019 – day 11.

Dullest day, so far.

Since I had a motel the previous night, I stayed until check-out at 11am.

Breakfast and coffee were included with the $60 room.

After yesterday’s long, hot ride I felt I should cut the number of hours in the sun today. I didn’t really get going until Noon.

I’d planned to resume the Great American Rail-Trail but found the track too sandy. It really requires a fat bike. I quit after about a mile.

Parallel at that point was a canal path. Better, but still difficult to pedal.

Finally I headed for the empty secondary highways.

This farmland is pretty. But I didn’t stop to take many photos.

I set my sights on reaching Plummer, Idaho, the start of the Great American Rail-Trail in that State. It’s called Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.

On a break I took some selfies.

The small farm towns of eastern Washington State are very quiet. There must be inexpensive houses for sale.

Gas, Food, Dope.

Looking to stop about 8pm I found a nice, quiet spot between a farm road and the fence.

cycling Ellensburg to Moses Lake WA

July 12, 2019 – day 10.

A cyclist had earlier warned me to prepare for disappointment on the so-called Great American Rail-Trail Washington State.

And I was disappointed today.

Twice I was turned back at points on the where bridges were impassable. You can see where I backtrack on my route video.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

My first roadblock came right at the beginning of the day. The bridge over the I-90 was out.

Without hopping fences that meant a 6 mile detour. But a detour including coffee and bacon on a stick!

Farm country has a lot of fences. And other impediments to cycling.

On the other side of the bridge the GART continues on to Army land — Joint Base Lewis McChord. It did not look welcoming. One tunnel MIGHT be closed on that 22 mile section.

I decided, instead, to detour via the I-90 stopping at the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility.

The I-90 is not all that bad. It has a very wide shoulder.

Once reaching the gorgeous Columbia River I tried to rejoin the Great American Rail-Trail.

Once again, no go. The bridge over the river was out. 😕

I backtracked again now forced to cross the Columbia on the I-90. Not good. There is no shoulder at all crossing the bridge.

Look — the railstotrails.org website is lousy. Not up-to-date.

Not having their own app they rely instead on TrailLink, also lousy.

The Great American Rail-Trail is more of a concept than a thing. 

I decide to skip the next section as well trying to resume (last chance GART) at Warden past Moses Lake.

I road the service roads beside the I-90 freeway. Not much shoulder but hardly any traffic.

By the way, there is a town called George, Washington.

This is lush cropland. Lots of potatoes. Lots of corn.

This was my longest, hottest day so far. On a whim I decided to get a cheap motel in Moses Lake.

For dinner I followed the crowd over to Chevron.

cycling Snoqualmie to Ellensburg WA

July 11, 2019 – day 9.

I’d camped close to the Snoqualmie Tunnel in the Cascade Range.

Nearby was Keechelus lake. Many trees had been killed when the dam allowed more water.

Aside from Snoqualmie, the world’s longest biking tunnel, there are 5 more on the Iron Horse Trail.

Much of today’s ride downhill to the drier flatlands was near the Yakama river.

The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad went bankrupt ceasing operations in about 1980. Washington State acquired the line creating the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in place of the rails.

The stations and stores that serviced the trains are now mostly abandoned.

I was impressed to see a slow cook Bar-B-Q place in the former Cle Elum train station.


The Great American Rail-Trail has clearly not yet caught on. In two days I met only two other long distance cyclists. From Japan, they’d come from Reno, planned to cross to Seattle, then work their way south to California.

I’d seen surprisingly little animal life in the mountains. The flatlands are better.

Sadly I saw, for the second time in my life, a juvenile Bald Eagle. On the ground it was quite defenceless. I’m assuming something went wrong while it was learning to fly.


There were many grouse. And lizards. And gophers.

Also farm animals in abundance.

It was a very windy day. Happily the wind was at my back.

In the temperate rain forest I could camp pretty much anywhere. Here in farmland it was far more difficult to find a discrete spot.

So far, so good. I feel fine after the last 2 long cycling days. Not a wreck yet.

Click PLAY or watch today’s ride on YouTube.

The Great American Rail-Trail

July 10, 2019 – day 8.

This trip was inspired by the newly announced Great American Rail-Trail, Washington State to Washington D.C.

I reached it after a week on the bike.

The HIGHLIGHT was cycling through a mountain – Snoqualmie Tunnel.

When I entered I had no idea how long it was. And I was surprised to find it 11,894 feet (2.253 mi; 3.625 km) .

That was the end of a long day, however.

A very rainy day.

Up, up, up … but at a grade of less than 2%.

My first problem was navigating my way out of greater Seattle.

Of course I tried to stay on dedicated cycling paths like the Issaquah-Preston trail.

I considered hiking today but the rain kept me pedalling.

Twice it rained hard enough to make me find shelter.

I was forced on to the I-90 freeway at times getting to Rattlesnake Lake, the western terminus of the Great American Rail-Trail.

Rattlesnake Lake

Stage 1 is called the Iron Horse Trail.

And here I am at the start on my Iron Horse.

Despite the rain I loved the Iron Horse. Up into the mountains over a series of very cool railway trestles.

Conveniently there is a series of backcountry campsites along the way. I had the tent set up by about 8pm and slept well.

Finally, … mushrooms.

Leaving Port Townsend, WA

July 8-9, 2019 – days 6-7.

I enjoyed a day off the trail visiting friends in Port Townsend.

We had a breakfast meet-up. Then continued the reunion with Chris & Carrie hosting dinner on the deck of their new house. Teriyaki Tuna. Grilled pineapple. And much more.

On the morning of the 9th Diana and I went over to Fort Worden for coffee. Deer and bunnies graze everywhere in PT. 

NEW down by the harbour is a totem.

Doug’s retirement hobby / job is developing fitness monitoring apps. He’s much into solar energy, as well. 

His latest electric bike is the Elf 2fr.  It’s a superb product. 

Doug and Diane drove me to the Bainbridge ferry where they were picking up a friend arriving from SeaTac.

That ferry delivered me and my bike to downtown Seattle where Tam met me at Ivar’s.

Ivar’s is a Washington State institution.

In fact this was already my 3rd Ivar’s meal in Washington State. Love the place!

I’d come to Seattle in order to cycle the Burke-Gilman Trail, a 27-mile rail to trail.

University of Washington

It connects with a others including the Sammamish River Trail 10.9-mile.

About 8pm I wildcamped. Hoping it wasn’t going to rain too hard during the night. 

Watch today’s cycling route.